Being from the western U.S. (Montana, actually) the misconception I have most often encountered is that in rural western states – Monntana, Wyoming, New Mexico, etc. – it’s still about 1885. Cowboys! Indians! Everybody on horseback! Everybody in 10-gallon hats!
I’ve run into people who were surprised I knew how to drive, surprised the roads were paved, surprised I knew what a latte was, surprised I wasn’t raised on a ranch, surprised I don’t own a horse.
I’ve had friendly foreigners walk up to me and exclaim “Howdy!” apparently under the impression that’s the standard greeting. (Response: “Uhhhhh . . . howdy.”) And the distance thing is part of that:
JAPANESE TOURIST: How far to Yellowstone from here, please?
ME [car rental agent]: About six hours.
JAPANESE TOURIST (shaking head): No, no. Excuse me, how far to Yellowstone from here?
ME: About six hours.
JT: But we are taking car.
ME: Yes, about six hours in the car.
JT: To Yellowstone?
JT: From here?
JT: How many . . . ?
ME: Six hours. Have a nice day!